NATO officer: ISAF not preparing ‘zero option,’ total troop withdrawal from Afghanistan

NATO officer expects a final decision on post-2014 troop levels “within a couple of months”

From Peter Spiegel, Financial Times:  Allied commanders in Afghanistan have not been asked to prepare a “zero option” for troop levels after the US-led mission concludes next year despite White House insistence that a full withdrawal was actively being considered, according to a senior Nato officer.

The officer, speaking to a small group of reporters on the sidelines of a meeting of Nato military chiefs, said the Obama administration has only sought options for a military training mission with “focused” counterterrorism operations and not a complete exit.

“We have not been asked to or been required to provide a conversation with respect to the ‘zero option’,” said the officer, who spoke to reporters on the condition he not be named.

“I’ve not been asked to comment on that, I’ve not been asked to do analysis on that. I may be, but for now . . . I’ve provided my best military advice on a number of different capabilities and a number of different numbers.”

Benjamin Rhodes, President Barack Obama’s deputy national security adviser, announced last week that the administration was weighing up the possibility of a total withdrawal after Nato forces end full-scale combat operations at the end of next year. . . .

The Nato officer said he was comfortable with the shift in mission for international forces, particularly after a better than expected performance by Afghan army forces over the course of the past year. He said he expected a final decision on post-2014 troop levels “within a couple of months.”  (photo: Royal Navy)

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